- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Despite a miserable shooting night from its top scorer Trevon Bluiett, No. 4 Xavier broke off a 12-0 run midway through the second half to separate itself from Georgetown and win 89-77 Wednesday at Capital One Arena.

The Hoyas (15-11, 5-10 Big East) fell short of winning their third straight game and have just three regular season dates remaining.

Freshman Jamorko Pickett led Georgetown with 21 points on 6-for-7 3-point shooting, and Jessie Govan added 15 points and 11 rebounds.

With the win, Xavier (25-4, 13-3 Big East) remains in good position to be considered for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Bluiett posted a season-low two points on 1-for-10 shooting, including 0-for-5 from behind the arc. He committed four fouls and only played 23 minutes. Freshman Naji Marshall picked up the slack and led the Musketeers with 21 points on 8-for-10 shooting, J.P. Macura scored 20 and Quentin Goodin had 19 on 5-for-5 shooting with three 3-pointers.

The game was also a matchup of the Big East’s two best rebounding teams, and Xavier had 38 boards to Georgetown’s 29.

In the second half, Pickett hit his fifth 3-pointer of the game to break a 47-47 tie, but Xavier responded with a 12-0 run that included five points from Goodin. Coinciding with that run, Georgetown went scoreless for 5:22.

“They wanted it more than we did in the second half. We were right there in the first half, even though they went out big,” Georgetown coach Patrick Ewing said. “We came back and we fought. They just outplayed us in the second half.”

Georgetown got rolling to start the game as Pickett hit his first three 3-pointers in the opening minutes of the half, complementing a stellar team effort on defense. But Xavier profited from mini-scoring streaks by Marshall and Macura early, too. Marshall opened the game with the team’s first three field goals and Macura later hit four straight, including two 3-pointers, to score 10 points in a four-minute span.

Meanwhile, Bluiett missed all eight shots he took in the first half and went to the bench on two occasions.

Govan got hot midway through the half and hit six shots from all around the floor. Georgetown led by as many as seven in the first half. And in the final seconds, Pickett hit a 3-pointer to beat the shot clock and give the Hoyas a 40-38 halftime lead.

Even after the 12-0 Xavier run, the Hoyas weren’t in too deep of a hole. But after they stayed within eight points for a few minutes, consecutive Musketeer 3-pointers by Goodin and Marshall put the result out of question.

Bluiett entered the game averaging 19.8 points per game. When Xavier and Georgetown first played each other earlier this month, he posted a season high at the time of 31 points. But the last time the Musketeers visited Capital One Arena, Bluiett had a similar off night — going 0-for-10 from the floor and scoring just one point.

Xavier coach Chris Mack remembered that.

“I joked with him right there at the end when he’s on the bench that I hope the Big East Tournament isn’t played here, because he was like 0-for last year (at Georgetown),” Mack said. “Maybe folks in D.C. who don’t have a TV and come to the games may think he’s an average player, below-average player.”

Mack added that Bluiett kept a team-first mentality throughout his cold night.

“I didn’t see any frowning by Tre,” Mack said. “He just played to win.”

Ewing acknowledged that Bluiett’s minimal impact was surprising given the senior’s leading role in the Feb. 3 game, which Georgetown lost in overtime.

“But it’s like I told the guys, he’s just a part of the team,” Ewing said. “They have a good team. They have other guys that can step up, which they showed us tonight.”

Ewing was disappointed in his team’s overall effort after the Hoyas went eight days without a game. But Ewing didn’t blame the loss on that layoff.

“I expected us to be a lot more focused and come out with more of a laser focus, especially this game with the long layoff that we had, but I didn’t think it was there,” Ewing said.

The former Georgetown and New York Knicks star was not hesitant to call out several individuals. Marcus Derrickson, the Hoyas’ second-leading scorer, only put up nine points Wednesday. Ewing said that when Derrickson and Govan aren’t both having “monster games,” the team isn’t effective.

Freshman Jahvon Blair, despite contributing 12 points off the bench with no turnovers, was caught in the crosshairs for a moment.

“Jahvon, he needs to get back to what he’s been doing,” Ewing said. “He’s been coming off the bench and been giving us a big boost, and tonight he did not. He reverted back to earlier in the season with those mistakes. Bad shots, taking shots when he should have passed.”

He also mentioned Pickett, hot shooting night and all. His three rebounds weren’t enough for Ewing.

Pickett caught Mack’s eye, though, and the Xavier coach gave the Hoya freshman some eye-catching praise.

“I think Jamorko Pickett’s going to have one of the best careers that — I know Georgetown’s had some great players, but you can add him to the list,” Mack said. “He’s a freshman and he’s out there shooting bombs.”

Georgetown continues a three-game home stretch with games against Providence on Saturday and Marquette on Monday. The Hoyas then conclude the regular season Saturday, March 3 at Villanova.

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